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Sanitation District OKs Rate Reduction

(File photo, the Harrodsburg Herald). Mike Sanford of the Mercer County Sanitation District gives a presentation during a board meeting in 2018.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Mercer County Sanitation District has approved a new rate structure that would reduce the bill for customers using less than 2,000 gallons a month by $8.

The rate ordinance amendment has already been approved by the federal government. It next needs to be approved by the Mercer County Fiscal Court.

While some Burgin residents have been complaining about the $40 per month minimum bill since the sewer system’s construction, the rate reduction would apply to all of the sanitation district’s customers, not just to Burgin users. The change to the minimum bill will impact 39 percent of the sanitation district’s customer base.

The bills for those using between 2,000 and 3,999 gallons per month would be increased by about $3.70 a month. That will impact 37 percent of the sanitation district’s customer base.

The new rates are based on the cost of service per 1,000 gallons of sewage contributed to the district. Officials say the cost to the district to provide the service is approximately $15 per 1,000 gallons. Customers using between 4,000 and 5,999 gallons per month will pay as much as $15.40 more per month. That impacts 16 percent of the sanitation district’s customer base.

The rates are based on the cost to provide treatment, operation and maintenance and the repayment of debt for capital improvements since the district began operation in 2009, which includes a $9.2 million funding package to the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

Approximately 39 percent of the sanitation district’s customers could see a reduction in their monthly bills when the rate change goes into effect. However, tap fees were increased from $500 to $750 plus any additional costs.

At last week’s board of directors meeting, Mike Sanford, executive director for the sanitation district, said they were getting squeezed by higher prices for materials.

“We’re getting priced out on these because of the material costs,” Sanford told the board. “The $500 tap fee doesn’t even cover material.”

Currently, the ordinance only details four inch residential taps. However, depending on the material and what’s involved in connecting to the system, Sanford said the district lost money on tap fees. To tap into a clay pipe, for example, involves removing a section of the pipe and installing piping to accommodate the tap. Sanford estimated it costs about $650 before labor and equipment. If a road bore is necessary, Sanford said the district flat out goes in the hole because of the expenses involved.

Sanford said tap fees in surrounding communities range from $500 to $900, with some as high as $1,200. While some communities have lower tap fees, they also charge other fees. For example, Winchester’s tap fee is $400, but they also charge a system development fee of $1,000.

The additional costs include road bores when necessary. With that revision, they think they’ll be ready to present the amended ordinance at the fiscal court’s next regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m.

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